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Jersey City on August 12, 2021. NorthJersey.com

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The first local results from the 2020 census show New Jersey is growing denser, older and more diverse. 

Released on Thursday, the local-level data from America's decennial headcount found that despite an enlarged general population, New Jersey's white population is on the decline. Though the state is still predominantly white, New Jersey's Black, Hispanic and Asian populations are on the rise, 2020 census data show.

Statewide, the diversity index, which measures the likelihood that any two residents will identify as a different race and ethnicity combination, grew from 59.4% to 65.8%, records show. The total population identifying as white, 55%, dropped below that of neighboring New York.

Among the drivers was Middlesex County. Ranked fourth among New Jersey's 21 counties in 2010, Middlesex now ranks first on the state's diversity index — placing it in the top 20 counties in the nation. The county had nearly 66,000 more people identify as white in 2010, when the population was about 63,000 less, records show.

Increased populations were seen in regions throughout the state, though a nationwide trend of metro area growth in the 2000s continues.

Both of the state's largest cities, Jersey City and Newark, saw their populations increase by more than 10% between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. The third-largest, Paterson, grew by 9%. Among towns with significant growth, Lakewood led the way. From fewer than 93,000 people in the 2010 census, the township counted more than 135,000 in 2020.

Nationwide, 52% of all counties lost population, bureau officials said during a Thursday press conference announcing the data release. Larger counties by population were more likely to grow, they said. Conversely, smaller counties were more likely to shrink.

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MORE ON THE 2020 CENSUS:See a larger map and more information on the 2020 census data here 

That trend held in New Jersey, where Bergen County grew by more than 5%, Essex County grew by more than 10% and Hudson added more than 14% to its population.

Cape May, Salem and Sussex counties shrank by more than 2% between 2010 and 2020. Hunterdon and Atlantic counties also slightly declined in population. 

Overall, the decade from 2010 to 2020 saw New Jersey pack more residents into what is already the densest state. The population increased 5.7% to 9,288,994, compared with nationwide growth of 7.4%. Meanwhile, housing units jumped 5.8% to 3,761,229, while vacancies dipped from 9.5% to 8.9% between 2010 and 2020.

Related: What New Jersey 2020 census results reveal about state's population growth

The 2020 census also found New Jerseyans to be increasingly older. From counting 6.7 million over-18 residents in 2010, the Census Bureau now defines nearly 7.3 million residents as adults. The percentage rose from 76.5% to 78.4%.

Ron Jarmin, the U.S. Census Bureau's acting director, said COVID-19's impact caused complications and delays in releasing the information. Nonetheless, Jarmin said he was confident in its accuracy and ability to direct federal spending and legislative representation. 

"Local leaders can use this data to make decisions on where to build roads and hospitals and help our nation recover from the pandemic," he said.

The Census Bureau on Thursday released a serious of interactive graphics to accompany the data release on its website. Officials at the federal bureau said they plan to release all data in more user-friendly formats on Sept. 30.

David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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